I was sitting in my hotel room in Cameroon, when the news filtered in that a former Uber driver had committed acts of crime against passengers. It is just not the Uber way. Uber because it’s a business that is decentralised, it ensures that it conducts thorough background checks on all its partner drivers and ensures that their car are in top notch condition.
The emergence of this e-haling service has revolutionarised travel for residents and for tourists. As the world in increasingly becoming connected, we fly more and at the destination we hire cars. Nowadays, we don’t do that, we have Uber to create the driving freedom for us, and we know we are safe considering especially in a foreign land.
Because of its revolutionary nature, Uber has polarised society, not its intention I might say, one group that includes Henama loves the way that Uber has delivered First World Travel and Third World Prices, I even call Uber the ‘’Gautrain of the Road’’.
On the other hand, are the congregation of hate, whose sole ideology is failure to accept that change is the norm rather than the exception, some of them are regulators, and some of them are metered taxi drivers and related companies. Uber has been the subject of protest in almost all countries it operates in, especially from taxi drivers developing foam around the mouth. These protests have ranged from peaceful to violent, and considering that violence is a South African pastime, you can just imagine.
Whoever attacks Uber must know that the lighting that will hit them is busy doing push-ups. Uber is going nowhere, the only things going somewhere are customers chasing after Uber. An attack on Uber is equally an attack on the South African economy, as Uber has created jobs for the jobless and diversified the income streams of metered taxis.
Because Uber is more selfless than selfish, it has been explicit that metered taxi drivers must download the Uber app, and benefit from increased usage so that they can earn more. The metered taxi drivers that have downloaded Uber have fatter wallets and obviously happier wives, you know moss when households have money the fairer sex acquires job which becomes a family dividend.
Those meter taxi drivers that have not downloaded Uber spend a plethora of time inside of their cars reading newspapers and developing #Uvalo as they receive less trips and therefore less income. Zebra Taxis after making a mini-skirt announcement that it will be giving Uber a run for its money, was humbled by the gravity of reality, later playing the violin of understanding by informing its drivers to download Uber so that they can earn additional income.
Who ever is funding these attacks on Uber will be caught and be brought to book. An attack on Uber is an attack on the economy and specifically the tourism economy. An attack on the tourism economy, is an invitation of a length jail term. Maybe let me refresh your memory on those 2010 FIFA World Cup celebrity criminals that robbed tourists, to benefit from world class criminal justice system efficiency and effectiveness, to the applause of the Batho Pele principles.
South Africa is at the cross-roads as I speak as the country has entered its ‘’special period’’ when something in the economy has to give. We have rampant unemployment at 27%, the lowest growth in 20 years, a possible rating downgrade, a 70% decline in FDI receipts, a currency crisis since 2011, and ticking time bomb of an economy that has excluded the vast majority. The companies of the JSE have more than R460 billion sitting in bank account refusing to invest in the economy, whilst government debt sits at around R2trillion, whilst South African households are poor savers with high debt levels. Any sector or company that creates jobs must be supported and created space to grow.
Uber has delivered on jobs, hence I say an attack on Uber by the corporate espionages planners in an attack on all of us. By attacking Uber customers, the sponsors of corporate espionage against Uber sought to deter customer demand. Because their intentions are tainted with hate, they will not succeed, because South Africa is a good example that its only love that drives out hate. The fear that they seek to create around taking an Uber taxi will be exterminated by the Uber customers, who would vote with their feet and wallets as they demand more Uber rides. In such tough times Uber has had a social benefit of being the invisible second car that reduces traffic congestion and improves our Quality-of-Life. Long live Uber long live.
Mr. Unathi Sonwabile Henama teaches tourism at the Tshwane University of Technology and writes in his personal capacity.